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January 23, 2003

Israel Arrests Wife of PFLP Leader - Palestinians

GAZA - Israeli security forces have arrested the wife of Ahmed Sa'adat, leader of the radical Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the militant group and human rights activists said Thursday.

They said Abla Sa'adat was detained Tuesday at the Allenby Bridge border crossing with Jordan, from where she was traveling to Brazil for a conference.

Israeli officials declined to comment on the report.

"Abla Sa'adat was going to speak on the Israeli policy of political detention and she fell victim herself to that policy," said Khalil Abu Shammala, director of the Ad-Dameer Association for Human Rights in the Gaza Strip.

Abu Shammala said Abla Sa'adat had asked a Palestinian who was at Allenby Bridge to inform her family and his rights group that she was being held by the Israeli security services.

"We hold the Israeli government fully responsible for the safety of Abla Sa'adat and we demand that they immediately give information on her detention and free her," he told Reuters.

Sa'adat, general-secretary of the PFLP, has been in a Palestinian jail in the desert town of Jericho since last May. He was arrested by the Palestinian Authority at the request of Israel after the PFLP killed an Israeli minister and his incarceration is being supervised by British and U.S. guards.

Israel accuses the PFLP of being behind numerous bombings and other attacks since a Palestinian uprising for statehood began in September 2000 after peace talks stalled.